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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about an Investment Choice Protective Review℠ (iCPR℠) of the investment choices within 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans.

If you have additional questions, we would love to hear from you at

First, as a plan trustee, you may also be a plan participant. As such, would you not want all reasonable steps to help improve your investment performance as well as the investment performance of all of the other participants in the plant? Importantly, the Investment Choice Protective Review℠ is designed to help improve the investment selections within the plan. But that’s not all. The review is “protective” in nature because it provides a “second opinion” regarding the investment choices within the plan. Is such a second opinion necessary? The answer increasingly appears to be “yes.” In the Tibble v. Edison case, the Edison plan trustees (when sued for their investment selection decisions) defended as you yourself might by testifying that they “relied on the advice of their investment consultant” in selecting those choices. The District Court Judge brushed that defense aside and ruled that “at the very least the Plan fiduciaries (i.e., the Plan trustees) must have some means to ensure that their reliance on the expert’s (i.e., their investment consultant’s) advice is reasonably justified.” But, how exactly can you do that, if you just have one . . . one opinion / recommendation, with no way to independently verify its soundness or how it was formulated? The purpose of the protective review is to provide plan trustees with a practical way to “ensure that their reliance on . . . (their consultant’s) advice is reasonably justified?” The trustees lost in the Tibble v. Edison case. The goal of the protective review is to help plan trustees not only avoid such a loss but to avoid the possibility that any action would be filed against them as a result of their investment choice-related decision making.

An iCPR℠ can help improve your plan’s investment performance and the retirement security of your plan’s participants in the following way. DTC’s patented decision-assistance technology is utilized (in performing the iCPR℠ ) in such a way as to enable trustees to identify those mutual funds and ETFs that have proven best at producing the composite investment effects the trustees feel best match the needs goals and preferences over time. Because investment selections are being made from within the top 1-2%, it is not uncommon for the iCPR℠ to reveal performance differences between existing choices and the iCPR℠ revealed top ranked choices of 400, 600, 800 bps or more, and many times with less volatility and other risk and/or cost-related metrics. If it proves possible to improve the overall investment performance of your plan’s participant’s investments by even one percent per year, the cumulative effect of that, over time, could prove quite significant. It is, however, important to keep in mind that all investment involves risks and that past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Increased investment selection and performance monitoring knowledge, greater confidence in your investment related decision making, greater protection against claims of fiduciary imprudence in those decisions, and improved chances of better results. Why? Because, by means of the iCPR℠, you will be making better informed decisions. Logically, better information leads to better decisions which lead to better results. More information on improved chances of better performance is provided in the next FAQ.

TEPI will provide you with contact information of investment advisors licensed and trained to use DTC’s decision-assistance technology to help comparatively evaluate the investment choices within your plan. This is typically performed in a meeting, online or in person, with the plan’s trustees in which either all or a select group of choices of concern to the trustees are scored and ranked. Performance factor selection and weightings will be openly discussed, with the trustees providing information regarding the their assessments of the general risk tolerances and other employee demographic data to help profile the composite performance criteria that might best match their needs, goals, and preferences. Various combinations can be tried and ultimately final composite performance profiles will be selected by use of which each of the choices to be reviewed would be scored and ranked. Tentative selection and/or retention decisions are then made, factors and weightings are noted, screenshots of the scoring and ranking tables are saved, and each step in the process is memorialized in detailed minutes of the meeting. The trustees’ tentative selections then delivered to the plans regular investment advisor for a final qualitative review, with this single question: “If there is any qualitative due diligence-based reason why any of these should not be selected, please explain?” Any such explanation is then given to the reviewing consultant for final review and confirmation and/or a follow up meeting with the Trustees if needed.

Unless there is some dramatic change with regard the performance of any one or more choices, we recommend that an iCPR℠ be performed once each year.

Yes. While this might protect you and your plan today, since most underperformance damages are currently measured by how far below its benchmark index the performance of that choice has fallen (and over how long a period), this may not always be the case. As the existence of DTC’s ProRapidReview℠ technology becomes more widely known and utilized within the investment advisory world, a different measure of damages may apply. Moreover, if you, as a trustee (and likely also a plan participant) want to ensure the best chances of achieving better overall performance, then we believe there is no better way to help to achieve that goal than to have an Investment Choice Protective Review℠ (iCPR℠) performed for your plan.<br /><br />As you will see from your free use of the Checkup Tool℠, most active mutual funds are only “average” in their performance. However, there are a relatively small number that consistently outperform passive index funds and ETFs over time. Consequently, it’s not surprising that passive choices have become so widely employed. After all, there’s no way to seriously under-perform a benchmark index in which you are invested (you’ll “under-perform” by only the cost of the index fund). But there are some actively managed mutual funds that have and do consistently outperform benchmark indices. The problem is that, with existing tools, it has been very hard (if not practically impossible) to identify them. This highlights unique value of the use of DTC’s ProRapidReview℠ technology in the performance of an Investment Choice Protective Review℠ (iCPR℠). It was created specifically to objectively identify the best performing (highest scoring and ranking) mutual funds and ETFs within each asset class.

Not exactly, because (as you likely know) past performance is no guarantee of future results. However, what we have found (from over a decade of testing and practical use in advising real clients and their money) is that choices lying within the top 1-2% (and not simply the top decile or quartile) appear to have a higher degree of positive correlation between past and future performance. They tend to remain “good” longer before reverting to the “mean.” Moreover, the periodic use of the ProRapidReview℠ technology used in performing the Investment Choice Protective Review℠ reveals something that we believe no other methodology is capable of providing. It’s an answer to this key performance monitoring question: “How did our choices do versus all of the other choices we could have selected?” If your mutual fund or ETF choices start to decline in ranking, you will now get to see which ones are moving up – all within the same asset classes, with the same investment goals, and in the same market conditions. This will help you and your fellow trustees avoid one of the principal cause of chronic under-performance: holding poor performing choices for far too long.

No. We’re aware of no such service being offered and we know that no investment advisory firms are using DTC’s patented decision-assistance technology to provide such a service other than those licensed to do so available through While the underlying performance data on mutual funds and ETFs exists and can be downloaded and manipulated, to the best of our knowledge there are no tools available that can comparatively evaluate mutual fund and ETF choices as rapidly and efficiently as DTC’s ProRapidReview℠ (ProRRT℠) used to perform the iCPR℠. What might take advisors days and possibly even weeks to do, DTC’s ProRRT℠ can perform in mere moments. This speed and ease of use is what makes interactive iCPR℠ meetings with plan trustees possible.

No. The Investment Choice Protective Review℠ (iCPR℠) is just that – a “protective review” / a protective “second opinion” regarding your plan’s investment choice lineup. In fact, after the quantitative scoring and ranking of your plan’s investment choices with available alternatives (that is the central part of the iCPR℠ process is performed), the protocol is to have the trustees give their tentative selection decisions to their existing investment advisors for a qualitative due diligence review, with this single question: “Is there any qualitative due diligence-based reasons why we should not select this mutual fund (or ETF)?” If the answer is “yes,” then the existing advisor will be asked to explain, in detail and that explanation will be passed over to the reviewing consultant for review and confirmation. Final action of that fund will be decided at the conclusion of this entire process.

It depends on what you mean. If the question is whether it will reduce the plan’s out of pocket expenses, then the answer is “it could.” How? Well, as has been discussed elsewhere on this site, lawsuits against plan sponsors and trustees appear to be dramatically increasing, year-to-year. The out of pocket costs of defending such suits, which can drag on for literally years, can be shockingly high. Minimizing the chances that you and your plan will be sued for fiduciary imprudence for chronically under-performing investment choices within your plan could save many tens of times the cost of an iCPR℠. But what you (as a trustee) and your plan have “fiduciary liability insurance?” Wouldn’t that cover those costs. Yes, in part. The problem is that the dramatic growth in the number of such lawsuits and the size of the judgements and settlements in them have driven up the costs of such coverage, have reduced policy coverage limits, and have increased amounts that the plan sponsor and you must cover, out of pocket (i.e., the “retention” / deductible amount) before the insurance coverage kicks in. In this situation “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true and can be legitimately translated into thousands of costs preventing millions of potential damages. Importantly, we are now in discussions with one national fiduciary liability insurance company regarding a possible reduction in premiums for plan sponsors and trustees utilizing the Investment Choice Protective Review℠ process. Discussions with others are planned.

Yes, it should, within every covered asset class. Better information leads to Better Decisions which, in turn, should logically lead to Better Results.

This is a “legal question” best asked of your legal counsel. Please feel free to pass the following along to him or her (we’d be happy to discuss it with them). While the SEC and state securities regulators have recently been informed of the existence of DTC’s patented decision-assistance technology and its application to investment selection and ongoing performance monitoring, the Department of Labor (DOL) has not. We are aware of the DOL’s ongoing concern with ensuring that plan participant rights are protected under ERISA and that plan trustees (as “fiduciaries” under ERISA) are performing their fiduciary duties. All of the regulatory bodies, at both the federal and state levels, appear to be legitimately concerned with conflicts of interest and how such conflicts can corrupt the investment advisory process and degrade the investment results and retirement security of all investors (including your plan’s participants). By effectively filtering out all conflicts of interest, both known and unknowable, the use of DTC’s ProRRT℠ technology in the iCPR℠ process helps to demonstrably ensure that you are acting in the “best interests” of your plan’s participants.

No. It doesn’t. The iCPR℠ process of scoring and ranking investment choices within your plan is completely objective and the structure of the process itself effectively filters out all conflicts of interest, both known and unknowable. Moreover, it is virtually impossible to manipulate factor selections and weighting to cause a poor performing fund choice to move up to a high scoring and ranking position and, if something like this were to b attempted, you (the trustee) would be able to see the attempted manipulation clearly displayed in the visible performance parameters and weightings that have been selected. <br />In most cases today, in the process of investment choice selection, recommendations are formulated “behind a curtain.” The “process” (if there really is one) by which the recommended choices were selected can be described to you, but you have no way of independently verifying that process was performed (as described), nor do you know how large the starting universe of potential choices was or how that universe came to be constructed (i.e., did funds have to “pay to play”). In stark contrasts, with the Investment Choice Protective Review℠ process, trustees not only get to see the process performed, they can even participate in it, in real time.

In its present form, DTC’s ProRapidReview Tool℠ is only recently introduced and made available to all investment advisors. However, the patented decision-assistance technology which powers it has been tested, refined, and in private use within the investment advisory marketplace for well over a decade. The technology has been the key differentiator in advising over several billion dollars of investment assets, both institutional and individual, over that period of time. The iCPR℠ process that uses DTC’s ProRRT℠ has been developed and tested by TEPI over a number of years and is only now being broadly introduced to plan sponsors and trustees.

The Checkup Tool™ is an entirely Free Version of Decision Technologies Corporation’s Professional RapidReview Tool™ (“ProRRT™”). It is a fully functional, working version of the ProRRT™ with only one limitation – it does not show the names of the mutual funds and ETFs. You can use it to see how the mutual funds and ETFs within your plan compare to other possible choices. In other words, you can freely use it, without cost, to determine your need for an Investment Choice Protective Review℠ protective review by an independent, qualified investment advisor licensed to use the ProRRT℠ technology to perform protective reviews. Unlike simply comparing performance to a benchmark index, you’ll be able to see how your plan’s investment choices perform in comparison to those with the absolute best (in their class) composite performance, using the factors and weightings which you can select that you believe best match the investment needs, goals, and preferences of your plan’s participants. You may be shocked at the size of the long-term performance premiums of the top ranked funds (in comparison to both your plan’s choices and the index benchmarks), often with less volatility (i.e., with no equivalent “risk premium”), and frequently at the same or lesser cost. Consequently, the Checkup Tool℠ is used you self-diagnose the need for and advisability of securing a protective review of the investment choice lineup within your plan. Through such a review you can help to increase your plan’s chances of providing better performing investment choices and investment results, possibly dramatically. Try it and you’ll understand.

The Checkup Tool℠ is a available for use by any 401(k) or 403(b) plan sponsor, plan trustee, or plan participant visiting this site, but it is principally intended for use by plan trustees interested in answering this key investment choice selection question: “Of all the available choices, which ones are best for our plan’s participants?” It’s a way to determine whether a protective review would be advisable and beneficial. The larger the performance gaps between the choices in the plan and available alternatives, the greater the vulnerability to potential claims of fiduciary imprudence for holding poor performing choices (especially if they’re held for too long) and the greater the advisability of having a protective review performed.

It is principally intended for use by plan trustees interested in answering this key investment choice selection question: “Of all the available choices, which ones are best for our plan’s participants?” It’s a way for trustees to determine whether a protective review of the investment choice within their plan would be advisable and beneficial. The larger the performance gaps between the choices in the plan and available alternatives, the greater the vulnerability to potential claims of fiduciary imprudence for holding poor performing choices (especially if they’re held for too long) and the greater the advisability of having a protective review performed.

Yes, Decision Technologies Corporation has received both U.S. and foreign patents on this unique technology. It has licensed the technology to TEPI and to select investment advisors and investment advisory firms that TEPI, as the creator of this protective review, has vetted and permitted to use its protocols and intellectual property in the performance of the Investment Choice Protective Reviews℠.

The answer is “YES.” A full version of the ProRRT℠ is available at, and that version will show you the names of the funds. But, unless you are a professional investment advisor licensed to use the technology, we caution you against using it to try conduct your own protective review. The reason is quite simple and practical. Imagine if you were ever called as a witness and asked to explain under oath the significance of the various performance parameters, how you selected them and how you determined their proper weighting. Unless you were properly trained and skilled in this area, an inability to answer those questions professionally could be extremely damaging to the defense of your case. While the protective review process is highly interactive, with trustees both actually seeing it performed and being able to participate in it, the process is properly performed and by a professional investment advisor licensed to perform it and experienced with the technology. The principal purpose of TEPI and the website is to assist you, as a plan trustee, to identify and engage a qualified investment advisor licensed to perform this important service.

After providing your identifying information and logging in: you enter in the name, ticker symbol, or asset class (e.g., large cap growth) that you are interested in comparatively evaluating. What will appear is the relevant asset class. Click on it and then click the gears (on its upper right hand corner). A default table will appear with the following: A 50% weight on Return, with a sub-listing or 1, 3, and 5 year average annual returns. A 50% weight on Risk, , with a sub-listing or 1, 3, and 5 year average annual standard deviation (i.e., volatility). 0% weight on Misc. Factors. These weightings can be adjusted by using the slider. Additional factors can be added and the weights of those individual factors can be adjusted by clicking into the “Factors” section at the top left of the table. Adjusting the factors and their weightings will produce a composite score (at the far right of the table) and that score ranks the choices from highest to lowest (the resulting numerical rank being shown on the left side of the table). The highest scoring and ranking choices will be those that have proven best over time at producing the composite investment effect profiled by the factor choices and weightings you’ve selected. 7. Clicking into the “Chart” section (at the upper right corner of the table) will bring up a distribution of the choices with scores (y-axis) plotted against the numeric rank (x-axis). In most cases this will show an elongated, relatively flat formation, which we refer to as “the slope of mediocrity.” The much stepper and smaller slope at the far left, is “the slope of exceptional performance.” The chart illustrates that there are typically relatively few superior performers and helps to explain the difficulty in identifying and selecting them without a tool like that being used to perform the iCPR℠.

There are 48 individual quantitative factors which can be included in your weighted scoring of investment choices. You need not try to use them all. Use of the following ones such be sufficient to enable you to determine whether any of the choices should have an ICPR℠ performed: 3-Month Return, 1 Year Av. Ann. Return, 3 Year Return, 5 Year Av. Ann. Return, 1 Year ASD, 3 Year ASD, 5 Year ASD, A.U.M., Expense Ratio, Focus, Manager Tenure.

The Checkup Tool℠ uses only the oldest reported share class. Trying to include all of the share classes would “clog up” the resulting scoring and ranking with so many versions of the same funds grouped together as would make the Checkup Tool℠ impractical to use. So, at present, there is no practical way to screen out or select specific share classes in the Checkup Tool℠. The evaluation of individual share classes should be a part of the necessary, qualitative due diligence “next step” after the identification of the mutual funds / ETFs you are most interested in, through the Investment Choice Protective Review℠ (ICPR℠) process.

We update the performance data in the ProRapidReview℠ with the final performance numbers at the end of each calendar month. It could be done more often – for instance, it could be updated daily – but we have elected not to do so. Why? It’s because investment advice and performance reporting are typically done on a quarterly basis, and the hiring of professional management teams (which is, in essence what is being done when one invests in a mutual fund or ETF) is not for short-term performance. Mutual funds and ETFs are, unlike individual stocks, not suitable for day-trading.

No. The Checkup Tool℠ is a web-based application so all you need to do is log in through your internet browser.

You can use it on any device with a screen and internet access, however, the large number of factors that can be and often are used makes the use of devices with larger screens (e.g., laptops) more convenient.

Through our Support page, you have access to both instructions and explanations of how to use the Checkup Tool℠ and the various performance factors and features available within it. You can also contact us through email or by phone.

No, not at this time as no data is stored while you use the Checkup Tool℠. Reporting capabilities may be developed in the future, but we believe such a feature is not needed at this time. It is not required for trustees to test how well choices within their plans have performed relative to all other similar choices.

No. At present, there is no storage of information from your use of the Checkup Tool™. In other words, you cannot “save” the results of your use of the Checkup Tool℠ within the current version. When you close out a session, everything is erased. Each time you log in, you will start with a fresh, new blank slate. Both DTC and TEPI may track the usage of the Checkup Tool℠ in order to improve it and provide additional information and help with its use.